Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, pileated woodpecker

He’s still here, and guess what…

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…He’s not alone! He brought a friend.

Yesterday morning I heard the distinctive call the pileated woodpecker makes when he swoops in for a landing at the backyard buffet. So of course I picked up my camera and headed for my post at the kitchen window (It actually makes a good bird shooting blind, although I do my shooting with a Nikon D7100 instead of a gun). Sure enough there he was at his favorite suet feeder, and for the next 10 minutes, I tracked him from feeder to feeder and even over to our neighbor’s apple tree. I shot lots of pictures! Here’s a sampling:

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Next to the oriole feeder
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On our neighbor’s apple tree
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Scanning the neighborhood from the top of the hopper feeder
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Still scanning
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Leaning over to grab a bite of suet
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Hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree
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Swinging from the feeder on the old swing set

Now how observant are you? Can you tell which bird is our usual P.W. and which one is the “friend?” Here’s a hint: the friend is a female. Take another look at the pictures. Three are of the female friend. Can you pick them out?

Here’s another hint: the male has a red mustache and a full head of red hair.

Are you an expert on pileated woodpeckers or were you as surprised as I was to discover that our guest is actually two different birds? (The female is sitting next to the oriole feeder, hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree, and swinging from the feeder on the old swing set.) S/he had me fooled! What a surprise.

Hope you enjoyed this visit to our backyard bird buffet.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, My trail walks, nature photography

Big birds in the backyard

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To my delight the sky cleared this afternoon, and I was even more delighted when I heard a familiar sound in the neighborhood. I hurried to the window and, sure enough, the pileated woodpecker was in our backyard. It didn’t hang around for long, but before it swooped through the air to land on a tree farther away, I was able to grab my camera and get off a shot.

A visit from the big Woody Woodpecker look-alike is always a joy, and I thought to myself that I had my big bird photo opp for the day. But a little while later, Bob came home from his walk with Gulliver, rushed in the house, and announced, “Get your camera, and let’s go. The eagles are both at the nest.” So we took off for Bruce Yee Park, just a mile down the road from our backyard, where a pair of bald eagles have recently set up housekeeping. My longest lens really isn’t long enough to get great shots from much distance, but it was a delight to see this pair, Mama sitting on the nest and Papa standing guard in a nearby tree.

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I couldn’t get a clear shot of Mama.
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But Papa sat straight up and let me take multiple photo opps.
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They seem to be taking parenthood very seriously.

Our recent weather hasn’t been conducive to photowalking, and I haven’t added many shots to my trailwalking gallery nor posts to my blog, but this afternoon’s two unplanned and unexpected photoshoots …both without leaving the neighborhood, made up for my recent photographic dry spell. I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Thanks for stopping by to see my big birds.
Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, Color me Spring!, nature, spring

A sure sign of spring!

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Spring has been wearing its fickle face recently, bringing lots of rain, wind, and even a few rumbles of thunder. Thankfully we haven’t had any severe storms, although at times the rain was heavy enough to create a large pond in our neighbor’s backyard. This happens every spring, of course, and, without fail, when the spring rain comes, this mallard couple comes with it.

A year or two ago, they were joined by several other male mallards, but that didn’t go so well. There was an outbreak of territorial jealousy accompanied by noisy quacking and threatening posturing. With multiple male mallards and only one female, peaceful coexistence was not a possibility. Watching their antics, I harbored a suspicion that the lady mallard was enjoying the ruckus…and maybe even egging the guys on! This afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Mallard returned for their annual visit, and happily it was just the two of them!

Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, Eastern bluebirds

Rain-streaked and wind-swept

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After several day’s absence, the Eastern bluebirds reappeared at the Backyard Buffet this morning. Unfortunately, our recent weather has not been kind to the little birds. Instead of sunshine and blue skies, they have been welcomed by rain, wind, and cold temperatures. This morning the weather was especially unpleasant and has gone from unpleasant to miserable as the day progressed.

When I spotted them through my kitchen window, I quickly grabbed the camera. Unfortunately, I had to shoot through a rain-streaked window and a lot of haze. Most of my pictures didn’t turn out so well, but here are two more that aren’t too blurry:

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Eager to encourage regular visits, I set out a good feast, but I hope the stalwart little birds don’t get discouraged by the weather. They’re probably wishing they had taken a southern vacation instead of hanging around Lake Erie!

That’s today’s update from the Backyard Buffet.
Thanks for stopping by.
Maybe we’ll have better weather for your next visit.
🙂  Trail Walker

 

 

Posted in Back yard bird buffet, backyard birding

Especially for bird lovers…

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Even bluebirds can have bad hair days (especially when it is raining).

My “Pics” for the Week…January 1-7, 2017

All the “Pics” for this week are birds (except for two squirrels that sneaked in when I wasn’t looking) 😃.  All pics were taken in my “Backyard Bird Buffet.” The first week in January has been very cold (currently 12 degrees) and more cloudy and wet than sunny, which explains why all the pics were shot through my kitchen window.  Some birds were chosen because they are favorites of mine; others because they are new or infrequent visitors; and still others, just because they make me smile, and smiling is always good. So here are my “pics” for the week, the pictures I especially like. I hope you like them too.

New or infrequent visitors

The red-bellied woodpeckers haven’t been around much so far this winter, but I have high hopes they will appear more often. The same can be said for the Eastern bluebirds, which first appeared near the end of December, but haven’t visited in the last few days. I’m missing them!

These are among my favorite visitors.

Here are the birds that made me smile this week

Some birds make me smile by the way they pose or by the expression on their faces (beaks), and others by the way they interact with other birds or utilize an ornament in the buffet.

Finally…

I can’t forget the squirrels. They are a permanent part of the Backyard Buffet, and they eat more than their share of the birdseed. Some people love squirrels, others not so much, but I have fun watching their antics as they race around the yard. I wish I had that much energy!

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There you have it…my “pics” for the first week of January. If you have a favorite, I would love to know what it is.

Thanks for visiting today. See you tomorrow on Cellpic Sunday.
Trail Walker
Posted in Back yard bird buffet, back yard buffet, backyard birding, nature photography

Bright spots on a wintry day

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Overnight the temperature dropped to single digits and several inches of snow fell. The Backyard Buffet looks much more appealing when the ground is covered with a blanket of white, and because that same blanket had covered over much of their natural food, the birds were looking for food at ALL the feeders. That includes the hawk that visited yesterday, so all the little birds must be alert to the danger. We saw him on the ground at the edge of our backyard this morning, but he flew away too quickly for a photo opp. He is a beautiful bird, but I wish he would go scrounging for his meals among the snakes and rodents (If some of them aren’t hibernating) in the nearby park instead of in the Backyard Buffet. 😒

Enjoy these bright spots
That’s all for today.
Look for more Backyard Buffet adventures tomorrow.
See you then! -Trail Walker (aka Carolyn or Skip)
Posted in Back yard bird buffet, backyard birding, Eastern bluebirds

Back to the bluebirds

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I’m always delighted when I see Eastern bluebirds, especially when they are visiting my Backyard Bird Buffet. When yesterday dawned cold and soggy, I wasn’t expecting to see them, but as Bob and I watched the regular, daily visitors to the Buffet, a little flock of bluebirds joined the crowd and made themselves at home.

First this little male visited the new seed cylinder. I didn’t see him munching at the cylinder, but apparently it also works well as a perch and a place to check out the activity in the backyard.

A female joined him…
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…and he kept watch while she tasted a tidbit.

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Next they flew to the stump where they were joined by another female.

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Uh-oh, an intruder!

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A hungry one!
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Fortunately red-bellied woodpeckers are not a threat to bluebirds and other songbirds, so peace was restored in the Bird Buffet until a hawk flew in for a visit. At that point, all the guests at the Backyard Buffet scattered for safety. No one was left for the hawk to harm, so he flew away too.

That’s the end of Tuesday’s adventures at the Backyard Buffet.
Thanks for visiting! See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, bird photography

The watering-hole gang

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Although they don’t look exotic, house sparrows are considered an exotic species. They are non-native birds that were introduced into North America in the mid-ninteenth century, and to say they have thrived is putting it mildly. Currently they are thriving in my backyard, and I am not thrilled! Before the big oak tree on the back of our property fell in November and we ended up with a large brush pile in our backyard, flocks of these sparrows were happy inhabitants of a large shrub at the corner of our neighbor’s driveway. Now they have relocated from the overgrown shrub to the brush pile. To say they are happy is an understatement, but me…not so much! Currently the tufted titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, and blue jays are coexisting with the sparrows, but I am concerned that they will drive away the little bluebirds and other migratory songbirds with their noisy behavior, overwhelming presence, and tendency to take over nesting boxes. As the proprietor of the backyard bird buffet, that would make me a very unhappy home owner.

At the moment I am somewhat entertained by their antics at the “watering hole” as evidenced by these pictures of the male and female house sparrows:

…but this gang is aggressive and wearing out their welcome with me!  As winter wanes and the migratory warblers reappear on the annual return journey from their winter homes in warmer climates, I am hoping to offer them a safe haven in my backyard buffet. Unfortunately, the presence of a noisy flock  gang of house sparrows is definitely less than welcoming.

If any of you bird lovers have suggestions for how to discourage these invaders, please pass along what you know. I don’t want to play host to unfriendly invaders that are detrimental to all the beautiful songbirds that could find a happy home here. Meanwhile I am using the power of google to learn what I can before the time arrives for the spring migration.

 

That’s the latest update from Skip’s Backyard Buffet.
Thanks for visiting! See you soon with another report.
Trail Walker (aka Skip)
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, bird photography, My trail walks

It can be a challenge…

… to keep up with the visitors to my back yard buffet. Looking back through recent posts, I realized I’m not doing a very good job of keeping up with the ordinary little birds who visit the “buffet.” The fallen tree episode, starling invasion, Christmas cookie baking, and rapscallion deer visitors have dominated my posts for the past month, so I thought I would make up for it today and post a few beautiful birds that have been recent visitors to the back yard buffet. First the cardinals:

…and then the red-bellied woodpecker, providing a little competition for the starlings…

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And then the downy woodpecker, both male and female, have been frequent visitors at the suet feeders.2016_12_16_places_back-yard-birding_0124

And I can’t forget the house finches who are always hanging around.

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House finch checking out the area below the feeder
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I love the way this cardinal is waiting for the finches to give him some space. Very unusual!

So there you have it, a few of the little back yard birds that haven’t been getting their share of blog space recently. In the future, I will try to dedicate more space to them because they’re really too cute to ignore.

Thanks for visiting the back yard buffet today.
Trail Walker
Posted in Back yard bird buffet, backyard birding, Northeast Ohio, winter

A rare event

Many years ago, when Bob and I relocated from central Pennsylvania to the south shore of Lake Erie, I was a stay-at-home-mom with three little girls. We moved into our new home in January, and we hadn’t been living here for long when I realized that something was missing, something I was accustomed to in my former home, something I had taken for granted: sunshine!  That’s when I first realized that living on the south shore of Lake Erie is a mixed blessing…great in the summer, but not so great in the winter, unless you really like grey days!

That long ago experience is significant today because this morning the sun was shining, and I was finally able to get a few good pictures of the little juncos, or snow birds, that are winter residents of the back yard bird buffet. They are adorable little birds and fun to watch, but getting a sharp picture of the little snow birds is a challenge because they blend right in with their surroundings. The sunshine made a big difference this morning, and here are the pictures I captured. It was definitely a rare event.

 That’s it for today.
Thanks for visiting the Back Yard Birds.
Trail Walker